Meet Our TeamJonathan Cichon
Executive Restaurant Chef
Jonathan Cichon was named Executive Chef of Lacroix, the progressive, award-winning restaurant at The Rittenhouse hotel, in fall 2010. Known as one of Philadelphia's top rising star chefs, Cichon seamlessly fuses the freshest seasonal ingredients to create his own culinary masterpieces. In his role, Cichon also oversees menu creation, kitchen staff management, inventory, and plating.
It was during his business classes in college that Cichon realized that he could turn his passion for food into a career on the line instead of behind a desk. He pursued a job at Freighthouse in Doylestown, Pa. and worked every station in the kitchen. Cichon quickly learned to create authentic dishes with a modern twist. Inspired by his newfound skills, he enrolled in the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, to start his professional culinary career.
Cichon arrived at Lacroix in 2005 as an intern studying under Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix while attending Restaurant School and he continued to work at the restaurant after graduation. In 2009 Cichon briefly left Lacroix for a short stint as Sous Chef at Supper restaurant in Philadelphia, however, he could not stay away and within one year, Cichon returned to Lacroix as Sous Chef under the renowned Chef Jason Cichonski.
Together Cichonski and Cichon built Lacroix's reputation as one of Philadelphia's finest award-winning restaurants. When Chef Cichonski left Lacroix in fall 2010, Cichon stepped up to take on the role of Executive Chef. His continued ability to create progressive flavor combinations never fails to surprise and delight Lacroix's guests.
A Baltimore native, Cichon has had a great love for food since he was young and now as a seasoned Philadelphian chef, Cichon enjoys incorporating seasonal ingredients and clean, pure flavors from around the world into his modern dishes.
Justin Timsit, Advanced Sommelier
Justin Timsit joined Lacroix and The Rittenhouse, Philadelphia's AAA Five Diamond luxury hotel, as the Wine Director in the winter of 2014. A certified sommelier, Timsit is responsible for procuring the award-winning wine selection as well as offering his expertise to guests for the perfect pairings. In addition, his creativity and knowledge of the subject has led to the implementation of several new wine programs at the hotel and its dining establishments.
Timsit was introduced to wine, and surrounded by it, at a very young age. Coming from a Moroccan family, wine complemented every meal and was appreciated as an experience and story instead of just a beverage. Timsit recalls that he was not drawn in by which bottle the family would open but rather which stories would be told.
His understanding of wine is grounded in French Bordeaux and Burgundy from iconic chateaux and hallowed vineyard sites, learning from his father and his peers as avid collectors of the great wines of the world, in addition to reading as much as possible on the topic. Timsit spent many years exploring new regions, styles, cultures and traditions, following many of the legendary winemakers and professionals he admired.
After eight years on the West Coast in the fashion industry, Timsit set off to travel the world, visiting various wine regions and learning from the winemakers. This led to a wine website and the eventual decision to pursue the Court of Master Sommeliers. His instincts were validated when he achieved the only perfect score on his first exam and received the Walter Clore Scholarship for top honors in the Certified Sommelier exam. He then spent a year running a focused and intimate wine and dining experience in Los Angeles before continuing his journey in Philadelphia at Lacroix.
In August of 2015, Timsit reached the rank of Advanced Sommelier after successfully completing a grueling examination process with the internationally-recognized Court of Master Sommeliers. Timsit is now one of three Advanced Sommelier's working within the state of Pennsylvania. He is the only Advanced Sommelier interacting with customers on a restaurant floor, and is one of only 292 sommeliers who have passed the examination in the entire United States.
Food and Beverage Director
Sylvain Briens joined Lacroix as the General Manager in spring of 2012. In his role he leads the operations of all dining establishments including Lacroix, Bar 210, the Library Bar, the Mary Cassatt Tea Room and In-Room Dining at Philadelphia's premier luxury hotel, The .
Born and raised in Brittany, a sea-faring region located in the north-west of France, Briens grew up in a culture that always incorporated fresh, natural products into everyday life. It was this concept combined with summers working at his uncle's country club that sparked Briens' passion for the hospitality industry. In order to turn this passion into a career, Briens decided to attend the prestigious Lycée Notre Dame to pursue a degree in Hotellerie Restauration.
During his coursework, he refined his skills through a rigorous roster of hands-on industry experience in many Relais & Châteaux establishments, as well as some of France's most notable Michelin-rated restaurants. Upon graduating with honors, Briens moved to Quiberon, a popular seaside resort town, to manage a beach front restaurant called Le Colibri Brasserie, followed by the renowned Hotel Guanahani in Saint Barthélemy, rated one of the top "Leading Hotels of the World". It was during this time, that he had numerous interactions with guests from the United States which piqued his interest in making a move to America.
Briens applied for a student visa which brought him to the East Coast, where he was immediately impressed with Philadelphia and its unique history, dedication to arts and culture and most importantly, vibrant restaurant scene. He cultivated his skills and worked at some of the city's most beloved establishments such as Le Bec Fin, before starting his tenure at Lacroix. Briens currently resides with his wife in Philadelphia, Pa.
Jesse Dureka started working at Library Bar in October of 2015 and was promoted to head mixologist in September of 2016. After a stay at The Rittenhouse in early 2015, Jesse fell in love with the hotel and Library Bar. Soon after, he moved to Philadelphia from State College, Pennsylvania, where Jesse attended Penn State University while rising the ranks in the service industry. From banquets at the Penn State Hotel to mastering bar management and mixology, Jesse developed a love of spirits and craft cocktails that he continues to hone at The Rittenhouse. In his role as head mixologist, after seven years in the industry, Jesse's passion still lies in creating special cocktails for his guests that make them smile from the first sip to the last drop. Jesse currently resides in South Philadelphia with his dog Archer.